Wikibooks:Reading room/Proposals

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Welcome to the Proposals reading room. On this page, Wikibookians are free to talk about suggestions for improving Wikibooks.


I'd like to invite suggestions and opinions on an idea I attempted some years ago, and am thinking of trying again with an improved internal look-and-feel.

My idea was to have a single template that describes the organization of a whole book, called (in the current version) Template:name of book/Navlist, and then a suite of templates you can place on the pages of the book that automatically generate a table of contents, or a navigation box for the top or bottom of a page, or whatever other such thing is wanted. Using, of course, various formats for the TOC or the navboxes, depending on what is wanted for the particular book.

I implemented this, but at the time I had to rely entirely on wiki templates, and as a result, the format of the navlist was a bit odd-looking. (There were also some size limits because generating things from the navlist involved large numbers of template calls.) You can see the suite I created at {{Navlist}}, an example of a book using it at Conlang, and the navlist for that book at {{Conlang/Navlist}}.

I now have the means to rewrite the suite templates so that each book navlist uses a more readable format, and the suite templates parse the book navlist (which also drastically reduces the number of template calls involved).

So here are some questions, if anyone would like to offer their thoughts:

  • Is this a worthwhile idea to pursue?
  • What format should the navlist for each book use? Something based on wiki list notation, perhaps? Or something else?
  • What sorts of formats ought to be supported for tables of contents, top-boxes, bottom-boxes? What other kinds of things might be generated from the book's navlist?
  • (thrown in, gratis) Suggestions for other kinds of things that could benefit from being generated automatically, like this? I know of a Wikijunior book, for instance, that has a glossary, and then repeats items from the glossary on content pages here and there; I'm thinking a template could be set up so on the content page you can just say, basically, put the glossary definition of such-and-such here, and the template would go parse the glossary and snarf the appropriate definition from it. Or possibly one would have the glossary data in a template, and the glossary page itself would also be generated by extracting data from that template.

Miscellaneous notes:

I was worried, from the start, that the navlist would be vulnerable to mistakes, or vandalism, as a single-point-of-failure; however (unlike Wikidata which is outside the projects it affects), the navlist is grouped with the book. I have in mind, in the long run, we could build a tool for checking to detect dropped pages, and perhaps other kinds of anomalies.
I belive strongly that control of a project should rest in wiki markup, maximizing its accessibility to ordinary wiki users (even if in some cases it's fully protected; it's still more visible and understandable as wiki markup). So I've developed a device for implementing sophisticated stuff within wiki markup (not yet imported to Wikibooks, but I anticipate doing so; atm it's yonder). An example of using it for a navlist-like constomization device is n:Template:Infobox; that's a generic news infobox, where you can just name a category, like {{infobox|France}}, and it'll go look for a customization file for France; the customization file, if it exists, calls a template that sets up a wiki table containing the customizing parameters, so, and {{infobox}} parses the wiki table.

--Pi zero (discusscontribs) 14:20, 3 April 2015 (UTC)

Really interesting ideas. The stub template on the French Wikipedia, w:fr:Modèle:Ébauche, works like the kind of template you're describing (I think). {{Ébauche|France}} calls on {{Ébauche/paramètres France}} for image, portal to link to, category, and so forth. As regards the Navlist, it seems like a good and very useful idea. I am concerned, though, that it is confusing for an editor unfamiliar with the workings of wikicode to add or edit the table of contents at a page like Template:Conlang/Navlist. Is there a way to hide more of the code from a casual editor? Liam987 talk 20:21, 4 April 2015 (UTC)
@Liam987: The scary notation of {{Conlang/Navlist}} was always one of the things that bothered me about it, even though I was pretty excited I got the suite to work. It's now possible to use almost any (wiki-based) syntax we want, which presents a different kind of problem in that, with no constraints to force us to do things a certain way, we have to decide what we think would be most useful — most readable and most writeable, presumably. It may turn out that there are practical constraints after all, when I get into the coding, but meanwhile, I'm interested in any thoughts on what others think might work well. --Pi zero (discusscontribs) 23:03, 4 April 2015 (UTC)
@Pi zero: I've added a Navlist using your template on Breton, which I've been restructuring around imported Wikiversity material. It works very well, although one comment I have is that it would be useful to be able to have multiple levels of navigation in the {{Navlist/Top}} template. For example, the Breton books is structured into six levels and multiple lessons for level. I would like to be able to have the Navbox at the top of each page to link both to the next level and also to the next lesson, so that Breton/Level 2/Lesson 2 would link to Breton/Level 2/Lesson 1 and Breton/Level 2/Lesson 3, and then below that also to Breton/Level 1 and to Breton/Level 2. Also, more customizability as to which order pages are linked to, and maybe the ability to add pages to the Navbox list but not have them automatically included in the sequence for {{Navlist/Top}} and {{Navlist/Bottom}}, for optional subpages that are outside the main sequence of the book. Overall, though, these templates are great and I compliment you on them. Liam987 talk 20:59, 8 May 2015 (UTC)
@Liam987: Do you have suggestions on the question of navlist format? Since you've actually used it. I'm thinking the current format is extremely heavy on braces and pipes (wiki template-call notation), and since I think I need a more efficient and simpler internal implementation anyway, I can use pretty much any format I want. There's a bewildering range of possibilities, whereas when I first implemented the template suite I had such technical constraints I barely came up with one way it could work. At that time I thought about more complicated navbox formats and basically gave up because the implementation would be too hairy; now I could tackle more more elaborate navbox formats once I overhaul the internals, but I need to get the navlist format issue settled before I overhaul the internals. --Pi zero (discusscontribs) 10:20, 11 July 2015 (UTC)
@Pi zero: That's very interesting indeed, and the Wikilisp thing is just beautiful. In the Haskell book we have our own intricate web of templates, far less sophisticated than yours, that allows us to change the TOC and have it reflected everywhere with (almost) just one change − and I'm really glad it exists. The more books can benefit from similar features through a generic implementation the better. Two extra comments:
  • One feature you might find worthy to implement is grouping. In the Haskell book, the TOC is subdivided in groups of 8-12 pages, and the navigation templates allow you to switch to a page within the same group without having to return to the index, as well as moving to the start of a different group. That can make navigation a lot smoother in large books.
  • Perhaps I'm not thinking straight right now, but by "Or possibly one would have the glossary data in a template, and the glossary page itself would also be generated by extracting data from that template" do you really mean it is feasible to build something like a glossary by doing reverse lookups across a book? The use case I have in mind is a back-of-the-book index of terms. Several times already I have been tempted to create one for Haskell, but the maintenance burden for a large book might become unmanageable. Automated generation would definitely make it feasible, even if, say, it turns out that we would have to request updates manually for technical reasons.
Duplode (discusscontribs) 19:54, 13 July 2015 (UTC)
@Duplode: If there's some sort of "navlist" that lists all the pages in the book, it ought to be possible to go through that list of pages, extract glossary-item definitions from each of them, sort those entries in whatever way one wants, and produce a glossary page. I can think of two possible problems with that. One problem is that for a large book it might exceed some transclusion limits of the wiki software (which is also a potential problem with building a "print version" page; I can maybe see a tolerably doable way around that, eventually). A probably-lesser problem is that if the glossary is really dependent on all the other pages of the book, then the glossary will have to be recomputed every time any page of the book is edited. --Pi zero (discusscontribs) 02:57, 14 July 2015 (UTC)

Annotated Jurassic World Wikibook. Good idea?[edit]

I'm sure you're all aware that the summer blockbuster Jurassic World has just been released. Wikibooks's annotated texts policy states that works annotations for movies can be created here, and the featured status of the Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter suggests that these sorts of companion pieces to copyrighted works are acceptable here, so I was wondering if a book-length scene by scene breakdown of the scientific accuracy, effects, screenwriting, cinematography, etc of Jurassic World, like a movie version of Cliffs or Spark Notes, would be a viable project here. I posted this at the general reading room but it only got commented on by one (admittedly unenthusiastic) editor and I hoped posting it here too would attract some more eyes and comments. Abyssal (discusscontribs) 17:18, 15 June 2015 (UTC)

It all depends on the "educational" content, in general blockbuster movies are not worth speaking much about in regards to creative writing or even the cinematography. This one in particular, Jurassic World, is a very poor example of movie art, its full of cliches and the logic of the script goes out of the window about 30m in. In general it would be better to go about it like we go about biographies, avoid covering contemporaneous subjects since they bring about a lot of emotional baggage... --Panic (discusscontribs) 09:50, 15 June 2015 (UTC)
I'm reposting the above since it got "deleted" without notice even if I got it back from my contribution history it did not appear on this pages edit history... If you made a significant contribution check it out since it may have been a hiccup on the project's servers.--Panic (discusscontribs) 17:49, 15 June 2015 (UTC)
@Panic2k4:. It's because Abyssal posted the question twice. Your original comments are over at Wikibooks:Reading room/General. QuiteUnusual (discusscontribs) 07:31, 18 June 2015 (UTC)

Restructuring Linguistics[edit]

I have proposed a restructuring of the Linguistics book at Talk:Linguistics#Restructuring. Over the years, the book has seen many additions to its contents, and it seems that each additional module was added to the end of the book, in a way similar to the stack data structure. As such, I feel it is more appropriate to restructure the book now. I also plan to add chapters previously suggested by another user on the talk page. The only action that will require admin interference is the deletion of Linguistics/Computational Linguistics, which I think is a topic not possible to introduce in an introductory book on ling. Kayau (talk · contribs) 15:30, 22 June 2015 (UTC)

Redirecting recipes[edit]

Would it be possible to redirect Spanish Omelet and other recipes to the corresponding Cookbook:Spanish Omelet and such?-- (discuss) 23:56, 11 July 2015 (UTC)

Personally, I'm not too fond of this idea because we could have an entire textbook called Spanish Omelet about the history, etc. of Spanish omelets. I think an alternative method would be for the Special:Search to list Cookbook (and Wikijunior) pages by default in the search results. (As it currently stands, only the mainspace, Wikibooks: and Subject: are included). An admin should be able to change that setting. Kayau (talk · contribs) 09:36, 12 July 2015 (UTC)
Like you, I thought default search included mainspace, project space, and subject space. By empirical testing, though, it seems that under some circumstances it's only mainspace.
I don't know of a hook for admins to chance this; afaik it's part of our project configuration. So we'd need to get a community consensus and file a request at phabricator (we did this within the past year or so at en.wn, and it went fairly smoothly except that even the most experienced of us had trouble figuring out phabricator). --Pi zero (discusscontribs) 10:23, 12 July 2015 (UTC)
This? mw:Manual:$wgNamespacesToBeSearchedDefault I don't know enough about the MW software to know if this can be set by admins though. Is Phabricator the new Bugzilla? Kayau (talk · contribs) 14:54, 13 July 2015 (UTC)
Yeah, that's the variable. It's in php, beyond the reach of admins. Phabricator is now used for what previously used bugzilla. The "ph" somehow reminds me of the word "phony". --Pi zero (discusscontribs) 16:12, 13 July 2015 (UTC)
Maybe because of the word 'fabricate' (as in 'fabricate truths'). :P Kayau (talk · contribs) 05:41, 15 July 2015 (UTC)
I agree with the original poster that typing "Spanish Omelet" in the search bar at the top should either include Cookbook:Spanish Omelet in the list of results, or go directly to that page. I agree with Kayau that adding "Cookbook" to the list of default search namespaces is a better way of accomplishing that goal than setting up a bunch of redirects.
What's the next step towards adding "Cookbook" to the list of default search namespaces? --DavidCary (discusscontribs) 14:03, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
I think we are all in agreement. In fact after adding the extra namespaces to the default search function it would be great to permit to toggle in and out the appearance of redirect pages from the search results, this would solve issues with having people create them in the first place (even working as a patch if the first is not possible). --Panic (discusscontribs) 03:48, 18 July 2015 (UTC)

Allowing reviewers to move pages while deleting the original page?[edit]

If you've ever patrolled recent changes while I was very active (i.e. 2009, 2010, 2013 or 2015), you've probably noticed that I move pages a lot when I write. I split pages, merge pages and rename pages a lot as I write, since I often come to the realisation, while writing, that this chapter will eventually grow too long or that chapter is too short to be independent. I think allowing reviewers to move pages while deleting the original page would lessen the workload on admins a bit and eliminate the minor and harmless (but annoying) inconvenience of waiting for an admin to delete the page. Kayau (talk · contribs) 08:10, 23 July 2015 (UTC)

I ran into a similar scenario the other day − I messed up a few page moves and left a mess of {{speedy}} requests for the admins to deal with so that I could undo the moves. However, I feel the change you propose is risky, as it effectively would give all reviewers a loophole to delete any page.--Duplode (discusscontribs) 21:20, 25 July 2015 (UTC)
Aye, there's the rub. Move-without-leaving-a-redirect is essentially a limited form of deletion; the power to delete is a big deal; and we hand out the review priv to users here on a fairly relaxed basis. --Pi zero (discusscontribs) 01:26, 26 July 2015 (UTC)